Ima Hogg

Ima Hogg, a passionate philanthropist and avid art collector, was a leading figure in Houston’s cultural life.

Born on July 10, 1882, to James and Sarah Hogg in Mineola, Texas, Ima Hogg watched her father rise to the pinnacle of Texas politics before turning his hand to business. She became the lady of the house at thirteen, following her mother’s early death. Hogg attended the University of Texas at Austin from 1899 to 1901 and then studied music in New York and Europe. During her travels, she developed a deep love of music and passion for collecting American art and antiques.

In 1905, Hogg returned to Texas when her father was injured in a train accident. She nursed him until his death in March 1906 and then became severely depressed and withdrew from society. During this period, she traveled and immersed herself in musicology, but her depression deepened and she eventually sought treatment in a residential facility. Hogg’s personal experience inspired her to found Houston’s Child Guidance Center in 1929. In 1930, she established the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas in Austin.

Hogg’s philanthropy was not limited to mental health care; she was also determined to bring culture and beauty to Texas. In 1912, she organized the Houston Symphony Society, serving as its first vice president, and later as its president. Her love of music also influenced her tenure on the Houston school board, where she established symphony concerts for school children and fought for art and music programs.

In 1927, Hogg and her brothers began building a mansion at Bayou Bend in the River Oaks area of Houston, which she filled with priceless American antiques and artwork. The Bayou Bend Collection was one of her greatest works. Hogg donated the house, surrounding gardens, and collection to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in 1957. It was opened to the public in 1966.

Restoring and refurbishing Texas landmarks, another of Hogg’s philanthropic pursuits, began with the restoration of the family’s Varner Plantation in the 1950s. Purchased by Hogg’s father in 1901, the property originally belonged to Martin Varner, one of Stephen F. Austin’s original 300. During its restoration, Hogg created a Texas history museum with rooms dedicated to different historical eras. In 1958, Hogg donated the property and surrounding land to the state of Texas as a park. In the 1960s, Hogg restored the Winedale Inn at Round Top, Texas, later donating it to the University of Texas. She also restored her parent’s home in Quitman, which was named the Ima Hogg Museum in her honor in 1969.

In mid-August 1975, Hogg, then 93 years old, was injured in a traffic accident while vacationing in England. She died on August 19, 1975. Following funeral services at Bayou Bend, her body was interred in the family plot, at Oakwood Cemetery, Austin.